Difference Between Wander and Wonder

Main Difference

The main difference between wander and wonder is that the verb wander refers to physical activity, whereas the verb and the noun wonder refers to mental activity.

Wander vs. Wonder

Wander and wonder are the two different words having different meanings that are spelled the same. People on a large scale also similarly pronounce them.

The word wander is a verb. The word wonder is both a verb and a noun. “wander” is a verb meaning “to move aimlessly or without any specific purpose.” Wonder means “to urge to know something,” “to be extremely curious for something, “to be in awe.”

Wander and wonder are the two terms that refer to two different types of activities. Wander refers to a physical activity whereas wonder refers to mental activity. However, wander refers to a mental activity when it is used in a figurative speech.

When someone is wandering, you will get an image of walking him/her on a long road or anywhere else with no purpose, direction, or destination. When we hear or see someone wondering over any unique or strange thing or phenomena, we will get an image of one’s certain facial images, i.e. widened eyes, shocked face.

Hence, wandering involves a physical action and wondering involves a mental action. Wander is pronounced as /wänder/. Wonder is pronounced as /wunder/. Wander and wonder are both the states of a human. In the wandering state, a person is traveling aimlessly. In a wondering state, a person is expressing him/herself about something or object regarding its unique feature that left him/her in a feeling of awe.

The word wander derives from the Old English word “wandrian” which means “moving aimlessly.” The word wonder derives from the Old English word “wundrian” meaning “to be astonished,” “admire, magnify.”

We have an example of both these words wander and wonder in the famous poem of Wordsworth in which he starts with himself wandering lonely as a cloud. But then he comes to see daffodils, and he wonders on their beauty, considering them a wonder of nature.

Comparison Chart

WanderWonder
It is a verb meaning “to move aimlessly or without any specific purpose.”It is a verb which means “to urge to know something,” “to be extremely curious for something, “to be in awe.”
Grammatical Category
VerbNoun, verb
Type of Activity
Physical, mentalMental
Pronunciation
/ˈwɒndə//ˈwʌndə/
Origin
Old English word “wandrian” that means “moving aimlessly.”Old English word “wundrian” meaning “to be astonished,” “admire, magnify.”

What is Wander?

“Wander” is a verb meaning “to move aimlessly or without any specific purpose.” Wander refers to physical activity. When someone is wandering, you will get an image of walking him/her on a long road or anywhere else with no purpose, direction, or destination. It is pronounced as /wänder/.

In the wandering state, a person is traveling aimlessly. In a wondering state, a person is expressing him/herself about something or object regarding its unique feature that left him/her in a feeling of awe. The word wander derives from the Old English word “wandrian” which means “moving aimlessly.”

Sometimes the verb “wander” is also used in the figurative speech where it directs the nonphysical activities (the activities having no specific purpose or goal). For example, “The uninteresting story keeps my mind wander away in random thoughts.”

There is a very famous quote from J.R.R. Tolkien regarding the word/activity “wander.” It is, “Not all those who wander are lost.” It is a deep quote that holds a meaning that all the people who are walking without reason are not lost; they find a destination in this journey of their wandering.

The word “wander” is a regular verb. Suffix like -ed and -ing are added to it for making its past, past participle, and the present participle tenses. To wander is moving with no purpose or destination. It is a physical activity in literal and a mental activity in figurative language.

Examples

  • He wandered through the long silent roads in the cold nights of December.
  • I love to wander in the narrow lanes, in the jungles, and the silent streets.
  • Amelia was doing shopping irrespective of h her son, who was wandering in the market.
  • The old man was wandering on roads as he did not have a place to live and a kind man offered him to go to his home.

What is Wonder?

Wonder means “to urge to know something,” “to be extremely curious for something, “to be in awe.” The word wonder is a noun as well as a verb. As a verb, it refers to a state of amazement and curiosity. As a noun, it refers to magnificent things like an extremely beautiful/unique piece of art, building, painting, etc. Such things are referred to as “wonders.”

Anything which is new to people and which does not have a match is also known as a wonder. Wonder refers to mental activity. When we hear or see someone wondering over any unique or strange thing or phenomena, we will get an image of one’s certain facial images, i.e. widened eyes, shocked face.

Wonder is pronounced as /wunder/. In a wondering state, a person is expressing him/herself about something or object regarding its unique feature that left him/her in a feeling of awe.

The word wonder derives from the Old English word “wundrian,” meaning “to be astonished,” “admire, magnify.”

There is a key to remember the word wonder. It rhymes with the word “ponder” which is almost the same in its spelling to wonder and also means a similar thing to wonder. It means thinking or imagining something. Wonder refers to the feelings of extreme curiosity, doubt, and admiration, etc.

Examples

  • The Pyramids of Egypt are the great wonders of both the ancient and modern world.
  • I wonder how much time you are going to take to get ready for the party.
  • The sudden disappearance of a ghost in the movie left all the kids in wonder.
  • I am wondering that what is going to happen after the conflict between these opposite parties is raised.

Key Differences

  1. “Wander” is a verb meaning “to move aimlessly or without any specific purpose” whereas wonder means “to urge to know something,” “to be extremely curious for something, “to be in awe.”
  2. Wander refers to physical activity on the flip side wonder refers to mental activity.
  3. The word wander derives from the Old English word “wandrian” that means “moving aimlessly” while the word wonder derives from the Old English word “wundrian” meaning “to be astonished,” “admire, magnify.”
  4. When someone is wandering, you will get an image of walking him/her on a long road or anywhere else with no purpose, direction, or destination on the contrary when we hear or see someone wondering over any unique or strange thing or phenomena, we will get an image of one’s certain facial images, i.e. widened eyes, shocked face.
  5. Wander is pronounced as /wänder/ conversely wonder is pronounced as /wunder/.
  6. In the wandering state, a person is traveling aimlessly on the other hand in a wondering state; a person is expressing him/herself about something or object regarding its unique feature that left him/her in a feeling of awe.

Conclusion

Wander and wonder are the two different words with different meanings. The spelling and pronunciation of both words are very close to each other, but they are not similar words. Both words are different from each other.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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